Monday, November 8, 2010

We Arrive At Grafton Lakes State Park

I was making a photographic record of the rural Rensselaer County scenery while driving to Grafton Lakes State Park to hike with four of my dogs. I'd made it to the Grafton, New York area and noticed what I thought was a flock of sheep up on a hill. I stopped the car to take a photo and then realized that this was a flock of white turkeys inside a fence. This was probably a movable fence, relocated daily so that the turkeys had fresh grazing:

This very old house and adjacent barns brought back memories from when I lived and worked in the area. A friend had told me that it was the home of bachelor brother farmers. It seems that I later heard they'd all died and the home had fallen into disrepair. But I noticed on this day that someone had lights on inside and had placed a jack-o-lantern in the window. Apparently there's still someone living there:

And since I was making this a memory tour, I turned up the road to what used to be the Fitzgerald Brothers gravel bank. This tiny road snaked up a mountain to the gravel bank and I was once driven up it and over the top as a shortcut to another mountain where the logging crew on which I was working would be cutting that day. But all things change. The gravel bank now has a new owner and is fenced and gated. One can no longer drive to the top or continue on to the roads on the other side of the mountain. I did, however, catch this one view from the side of the mountain:

But my trip down memory lane eventually ended as I arrived at Grafton Lakes State Park. The hiking trails are accessed not from the main park entrance, but from a back road which passes by a series of lakes. The first one I passed was Mill Pond, a popular local swimming hole in days gone by:

And then we passed Second Pond, a lovely spot which most visitors to Grafton Lakes State Park are never privileged to see:

Second Pond's trees were mostly bare, but the shoreline was dotted with blueberry bushes and their flaming red leaves:

And then on toward the far end of Long Pond and the entrance to a whole series of hiking trails. I'd planned to hike the Spruce Bog Trail, not because I knew anything about it but because it looked interesting on the map. However, as I began passing trail heads I also began seeing these warning signs. Hunting season was open and hikers would have to share the trails with hunters. I was dressed in black and brown and would be hiking with four dogs. This was beginning to look like a very bad idea:

I kept driving and eventually noticed that all the signs warning of hunting were on the right side of the road. There were signs on the left side of the road proclaiming it a no hunting zone. My plans changed immediately and I parked my car and entered the woods with the dogs. We began in what I thought was a trail but turned out to be cleared strip for telephone lines. It was pleasant nonetheless, but I knew that Long Pond was just downhill from us, so I entered the woods and began bushwhacking down toward the lake:

The forest was quiet and there were no sounds other than the running dogs and the crunchy leaves underfoot:

There were occasional bursts of colorful leaves or emerald green moss in this otherwise brown landscape. But to the dogs it was just a giant playground:

The dogs can't appreciate the color and I can't appreciate the scents which their noses can pick up. I watched with wonderment as they investigated one spot or another as we traipsed through the fallen leaves. We were descending what the locals would call a "side-hill" (I've never understood why) as we made our way down to the shoreline of Long Pond. I'll post more tomorrow:

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